The Fine Art of Determining Peach Ripeness


How do you know when your peaces are ready to pick? For home growers it’s all about color. According to the University of Georgia,

Ground color is the best field indicator of peach maturity. . . The ground color of a peach approaching maturity is light green. A break in color toward yellow is the first definite indication of maturity. Brightening of the red over-color of the skin is another, though less reliable, index of maturity. Red color is typically dull prior to the green to yellow break. When the underlying ground color breaks to yellow, the red brightens and can easily be selected. Color judgments are reliable with many older varieties, but new highly colored varieties with higher percentages of red over-color have diminished the usefulness of color in maturity determination.

Farmers have access to a few tools that can make ripeness determination easier such as this expensive gadget that measures firmness or a brix meter for determining sugar content. These tools could only be justified if you were planning on growing, shipping and selling fruit. More useful for us backyard growers is this gallery of peach fruit color stages.

I’ve been picking them a little on the green side and letting them ripen inside in order to stay ahead of the squirrel menace. This year we’ve eaten a lot more peaches than the squirrels have.

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  1. Peaches in the store all look ripe but are hard as rocks. They never ripen, just shrivel up in their hardness and I throw them out. Okay, sometimes I do try to eat one. Then, I throw it out.

  2. I grow a “Frost” peach tree and have 2 ways to determine ripeness. (1) The rats start to hit the tree and (2) Touch. When you gently grasp a peach in your finger tips and lightly press, there’s a slight “give” of softening to the flesh.

    • I agree with Sheri about the softness (the critters seem to hit ours at all stages!), and I’ll add that on our tree, ripe peaches pull off more easily than unripe ones. This is not the easiest metric to use, but I’ve found that if I use a gentle touch I can feel which ones cling to the branch and which ones are ready to let go. If they cling, I let them stay.

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